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Blues updates: Club chooses not to sign Arnott

2013-03-10T16:34:00Z 2013-03-11T02:05:51Z Blues updates: Club chooses not to sign ArnottBy Jeremy Rutherford jrutherford@post-dispatch.com 314-444-7135 stltoday.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Free-agent forward Jason Arnott will not be returning to the Blues after all.

Arnott, 38, who has been skating with the team for a week, was informed by Blues general manager Doug Armstrong that the club is moving on without him.

The Blues brought Arnott into the mix as a potential depth player because of the rash of injuries at forward, but Armstrong says that recent reports on Andy McDonald (knee) and Alex Steen (shoulder) are positive and even Vladimir Tarasenko has resumed skating again.

"When we brought Jason in here, we wanted to see where he was," Armstrong said. "To his credit, he looks like he's in great shape. He had a good practice week here. But with the information that we've gained, Andy and Alex look like they're going to return sooner than we maybe first expected.

"With that information and the understanding that we're now carrying three goaltenders and not two, I saw a potential issue with the 23-man roster. And once I added all those things to the equation, I let Jason know."

Arnott was not available for comment. The 17-year NHL veteran, who had knee surgery last offseason, may be facing retirement. He failed a physical with the New York Rangers earlier this year and now a chance to join the Blues has passed by.

Arnott joined the Blues last Sunday in Dallas and has been skating with the team ever since. At the time, McDonald was facing a "week to week" rehabilitation time and Steen was listed out indefinitely.

McDonald made the five-game road trip with the Blues and has been skating on most days. While he looks like he's moving well, Armstrong expressed some caution.

"Skating by yourself is different than skating with the team," Armstrong said. "In talking to Andy, we told him this was an injury that he'll let us know when he's ready and we're not going to rush him back, or Alex, or Vladi for that matter."

Steen's injury was originally considered "day to day," but then needed extra time. He did not make the road trip, taking a few days off, but he resumed skating late last week.

"Alex has taken some time and he feels better," Armstrong said. "He's on the ice now. Again, we're working under the assumption that he's getting stronger."

Armstrong said the possibility exists that the Blues could get McDonald and perhaps even Steen back on the upcoming three-game homestand. The club hosts San Jose Tuesday, Phoenix Thursday and Anaheim Saturday.

However following the homestand, the Blues begin a three-game road trip Tuesday, March 19, in Vancouver and then don't play again until Saturday, March 23, in Edmonton. So if Steen sat out through the homestand, he would get two extra days to heal; if he sat out through the first game of the next road trip, he would pick up six extra days of rest.

"Time is on our side after the homestand," Armstrong said. "So if we get him on the homestand, to me, that's a bonus. If not, it doesn't look like it'll be much pass the homestand."

The Blues aren't expecting Tarasenko back in the immediate future and Armstrong said the Blues aren't drawing any conclusions from the fact that the rookie forward went through a light skate Saturday in St. Louis. 

"I don't talk too much about concussions, but it's not about skating," Armstrong said. "There's a lot of things. Not to be evasive, but I don't understand (concussions), so I just leave those to the medical experts. To me a concussion really is day to day until he tells us different.

"Whether he plays on this homestand, or he plays in the next two weeks, three weeks, the next month ... we hope to get him back as quick as we can. You're only creating false hope to your fans by putting a timetable on something that there isn't a timetable."

But while discussing the status of all three injured players, Armstrong said that he has to make "concurrent" decisions based on the "estimation of a return," and that's why the Blues decided not to sign Arnott.  

The Blues are currently carrying the maximum 23 players on their roster.

Chris Porter, Adam Cracknell and Andrew Murray, who were called up to replace the injured players, could be returned to Peoria to make the roster numbers work. But had the Blues added Arnott, it could have created a situation in which the team had 14 forwards and then would have had to trim either its seventh defenseman (which the Blues would not do) or its third goaltender (which the Blues don't want to do right now).

Armstrong didn't want to handcuff himself, so he'll move on without Arnott and let the rest play itself out. 

"That's exactly it," Armstrong said. "Right now we have the (roster) space. We're hoping to get players back, but we're playing four games between now and next Saturday. You hope nothing (injury-related) happens. But in this environment, I try not to worry about too much into the future...you just sort of deal with it day by day, when you have to make those decisions."

Jeremy is a reporter at the Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @jprutherford.

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